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John Gotti became the most powerful crime boss in his era. He was famous for his flamboyant style and outspoken personality. He was the boss of the New York City Gambino crime family. He was later sentenced to life in prison without parole (Davis, 1993). His criminal behavior can be best described by Differential Association theory.
In Differential Association Theory, Edwin H. Sutherland explains that the surplus of definitions which favor deviance over the ones that are unfavorable to the violation of law, will enforce an individual to be deviant while associating with others. Criminal behavior can be learned by an individual as well as in interaction with other deviant individuals. These individuals will learn the techniques of certain crimes, values, attitudes, the specific rationale as well as the motives. Of course, the associations will vary in duration and frequency. This theory explains why a person embraces deviant behavior. This explains peer influences among deviant youths or the special mechanisms that are involved in becoming a certain criminal. This theory attributes the cause of crime to the social context of people. Differential social organization explains why the rate of crime of a social group differs from others.
Sutherland believes that the associations of an individual are determined generally in the context of social organization. (Sutherland, 1974) The theory also focuses on how individuals learn how to become criminals. These individual's inspiration is the processes of cultural transmission in addition to construction. Differential association predicts that a person will choose to be a criminal if the balance of definitions for law-breaking surpasses those for law-abiding. This trend is reinforced if social association gives out active people in the individual's life. If earlier the individual is influenced by those of high status within the group, it will follow that he will follow in their footsteps.
Sutherland's theory has several key points. Firstly, any criminal behavior is learnt. It is learnt in the interaction with others in communication. The major part of learning criminal behavior takes place within personal groups, which are intimate. Another key point is that, when learning criminal behavior, it includes the techniques of committing a crime, which can be very complicated, or simple as well as the specific direction of drives, motives, rationalizations, in addition to attitudes. It also follows that, the specific direction of motives or drives is something learned from legal codes defined either as favorable or unfavorable. An individual becomes a criminal due to an excess of definitions which are favorable to violation of law over definitions which are unfavorable to the violation of law.
More over, differential associations may vary in terms of duration, frequency, intensity and priority. In learning criminal behavior by association with criminal, as well as anti-criminal patterns, incorporates all the mechanisms involved in any other learning. Lastly, criminal behavior is an expression of general values and needs; however, it is not explained by them, because behavior, which is not criminal, is an expression of the same. It follows that the more a youngster identifies himself with the others, the stronger the impact of the deviancy of the rest on their norms will be.
There are a number of psychological theories in criminology. They try to explain that criminal behavior is from stable psychological trait of an individual. Personality characteristics push people into committing crimes or demonstrating deviant behavior. They put emphasis on the meaning of neuroticism, extraversion, or psychotisism of the conduct of an individual.
The social factor is very important in terms of inclination to deviance. One of the scholars in using the psychological theories is Freud. He focused on the predicament of possible personality imbalance. This is basing on the functioning of Id, Ego and Superego, which results in the repression which can later get into criminal behavior. On the other hand, Erikson made an emphasis on the child development. He put his focus on the problem of identity diffusion, which can result in excessive self-conscious people. These people are extremely concerned with sexuality.
Erikson shared the view that the problem of unfulfilled expectations will end up in forming an identity which is negative. It will follow that the negative identity when possessed by an individual, makes him want express or show it out. The most common and easier way to do it is by rebelling against the law and almost everything. The rebellion against social norms in a society is a good example showing how a negative identity can bring criminal behavior as the end result. This theory provides the necessary ways of how crime can be dealt with. It acts as a perfect base of how deviant behaviors can be stopped at an early stage in life.
The other theory under the psychological theories is by Skinner; the operant conditioning theory. It is important to note that the theory is founded on the standard scheme of stimulus, which is reaction. According to B.F. Skinner, the actions that are reward-based can form the desired behavior of an individual and therefore, also give out important information in terms of preventing criminal behaviors (Skolnick, 1982).
Bandura has also explained crime behavior in his psychological social learning. It is also known as the social learning theory. In this theory, Bandura views that learning would be exceedingly difficult if individuals had to depend exclusively on the effects of their own actions so as to inform themselves on what to do or what actions to take. He also shares the view that an individual comes up with the idea of how new behaviors are acted upon from their observation of others. More over, on later occasions, this coded information will serve as a guide for their action. Bandura shares a view that modeling does play the most major and important role in the formation of behavior.
The theory of moral development by Kohlberg is based on the ideas found in the works done by Jean Piaget. According to Kohlberg, each person passes six stages throughout their development as a personality. More over, each of these stages belongs to a definite level. Kohlberg has marked out three of these levels. They are pre-conventional level, conventional level and lastly, the post-conventional level. It follows that each of these three levels has its own social orientation. However, it is important to note that the diapason of the social orientations vary from obedience and punishment, which then ends up with principled conscience. In any case, if something is missed along the way, which causes the principled conscience not to be achieved and then the adult individual does not understand what social mutuality is as well as, a genuine interest in the wellbeing of others means. In the end, Kohlberg indicates that the remedy or the only way out of the situation of this aspect of immaturity is to experience all the important social dilemmas at each of the six stages. The theories all focus on one thing, eliminating crime in the society, as well as, creating a better world for tomorrow.
A gang is defined as a group of individuals sharing a common identity through the organization, formation, as well as the establishment of an assembly. In the United States, there are many types, but there are two main gang types. There are street gangs; people with similar backgrounds as well as motivations. Street gang can also be known as youth gang. They have leaders as well as internal organization. They are mostly involved in criminal activities like extortion of money and drugs. The other type is the prison gang. They are groups in a correctional institution. They are usually formed for mutual protection as well as advancement. More often than not, the prison gangs have a number of affiliates in other state prisons. Most of the street gangs are linked to prison gangs. All these criminal gangs may function on the inside as well as the outside of a prison.
The Gangster Disciples started off as a gang known as the Black Gangster Disciple Nation, which was formed by the unification of Black Disciples and Supreme Gangsters. The GD has tried to legitimize their image. They use symbols to identify with themselves. Blue and black are the colors they represent with. They are known to put on Georgetown Hoyas clothing. The Gangster Disciples have a six-pointed star as their major symbol. It is known as the Star of David as paying homage to its founder David Barksdale. The six points represent Love, Life, Loyalty, Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding. Many of the GD members are said to be aligned with pseudo-Judaism principles. The other symbol for the Gangster Disciples is the three pointed pitch fork. The Gangster Disciples have graffiti known to have an M, (standing for money Mac and murder), as well as inverted cross, pyramid, and shepherd's cane. All these symbols are known to be included in drawings, clothing, private or public property, or onto notes.